How to Breathe
Breathing is our most constant and necessary activity, yet we often don’t think about it. Many of us breathe inefficiently; we breathe through our mouths, taking shallow breaths and using our chests rather than our diaphragms. However, if you train yourself to improve your breathing, you can become aware of the natural medical benefits of slow, deep breathing, which has been demonstrated to lower stress, improve circulation, and benefit your cardiovascular system. Harvard-trained MD Dr. Andrew Weil says "If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be simply to learn how to breathe correctly."
Respiration is one of the most important functions of the body; Oxygen plays a key role in our metabolism. The rhythm and rate of breathing not only reflects one’s physical condition but will also help to create a better physical condition.
How to Do Pranayama – Yoga Breathing
To perform Pranayama, as you inhale, first push out your abdomen, then expand your chest and as you exhale, first pull in your abdomen to help empty the base of your lungs, then allow your chest to collapse.
Click here to learn about Saagara's Pranayama App
This is known as diaphragmatic breathing, because as you inhale your diaphragm contracts and pushes down into the abdomen. Pushing your abdominal wall out makes room for this to happen. During exhalation, "pulling in" your abdominal wall facilitates the diaphragm rising up.
Breathing and the Diaphragm
With diaphragmatic breathing the amount of air entering your lungs increases significantly. This allows more oxygen to enter your bloodstream. Shallow chest breathing allows approximately 350 ml of air to enter the lungs, compared to the 4500ml that can enter the lungs when you breathe diaphragmatically. Training yourself to consistently breathe deeply while using your *diaphragm will ensure that more air enters your lungs.
Another breathing technique is a type of relaxing sigh. Sit in a chair and let out a long sigh of relief, then let air into your lungs naturally. Repeat eight to twelve times.
For more information on Pranayama and its health benefits, please visit our Pranayama page
The right posture
As with any exercise, check with your physician before beginning a new regimen. Don’t do Pranayama while driving or operating heavy machinery. If at any time you feel unwell while doing Pranayama, lie down flat and breathe at your own pace until you feel better.
You can practice Pranayama in any position you feel most comfortable in. However, it is suggested to sit on the floor with your legs crossing each other and your spine as erect as it can be. Place your hands on your knees, close your eyes and relax.
Once you are in a comfortable position, inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, first by pushing out your abdomen, thus allowing your diaphragm to move down and your chest to expand. As you exhale through your nose, allow your diaphragm to relax, by gently pulling in your abdomen and emptying the base of your lungs, then allow the rest of your chest to deflate.
If you have any respiratory condition, such as bronchitis or emphysema, exhale through pursed lips and not through your nose.
For more info on Diaphragmatic breathing click here( jump to diaphragmatic breathing page)
Breathing course for beginners
If you'd like to get started slowly with your Pranayama practice, here a few example breathing patterns that will ease you into the practice of deep breathing. Program these patterns into our app's custom setting and slowly work your way up, starting with the first ratio and progressing to the more difficult ones, never taxing your body.
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